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Review: Ruby & Sapphire

Last Updated: 20th Nov 2018

By Keith Compton

Review: Ruby & Sapphire



Richard W. Hughes (this is Hughes' s second book on ruby and sapphire and was self published in 1997).

What's in the book?

There are 511 pages of in-depth knowledge on Rubies and Sapphires. This does not however, make this book unreadable. On the contrary, the book is well written in an easy to read, almost laid back style, and is well researched. The book can be read cover to cover or simply whichever chapter is of interest to you at the time. While the books does go into "technical stuff" it is all readable and digestible provided you have some knowledge of minerals or gems.

This tome, almost coffee table format, could be regarded as an encyclopaedia on Rubies and Sapphires and comprises the following chapters:

Chemistry & crystallography;
Colors, spectra & luminescence;
Under the magnifying glass inclusions;
Synthetic corundum;
Assembled stones;
Methods of fashioning;
Judging quality: A connoisseur's guide;
World sources of ruby and sapphire;

The chapter on treatment of Ruby and Sapphire is enlightening to say the least: heating, infilling, irradiation, dyes and oils. It certainly raises questions as to the "naturalness" of any cut sapphire or ruby; for that matter any Sapphire or Ruby crystal that is not embedded in its "original" matrix.

The chapter on world sources of ruby and sapphire, contains numerous references after most of the countries discussed. For some countries, there is useful information (particularly for the gemmologist) on the means of identifying the source of rubies and sapphires: showing the general crystal habit, types of inclusions, colour zoning and cavities and other means of identification for that country/region.

Throughout the book there are hundreds of colour and black and white photographs of people, places, mines, cut gems and natural rubies and sapphires, along with numerous general maps.

Each chapter has its own comprehensive list of references. These references are to a wide range of sources from magazine articles, academic articles, and historic and rare books (many of which I hadn't heard of). The chapter on Treatments, for example, has around 210 references alone. According to the dust-jacket there are more than 2,400 references throughout the book.


This book is out of print so finding a copy may be difficult and will not be cheap. The book is fairly heavy and postage alone will probably set you back anything up to US$100. I have seen copies on Amazon and the like around US$1,000 and up, so you may want to refer to one of the more specialised mineral book dealers for a more reasonable price.

Who should buy the book?

For anyone involved in buying, selling, identifying or appraising rubies and sapphires then this book is highly recommended, if not a necessity. If you collect books on minerals and gems, then the references at the end of each chapter alone are worth the cost of acquiring this book.

The book is certainly aimed more at the gemmology market rather than a mineralogical one, however this doesn't distract from its usefulness to mineral collectors.

24 August 2018

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